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medical history



  • America as a “Shining City on a Hill”—and Other Myths to Die By

    by Gregg Gonsalves

    "Our relationship to disease, to pandemics past, is obscured by this myth of fundamental American goodness. If we accept that we are capable of barbarity, official cruelty, these myths shatter and leave us with a national story that is far more complicated to tell, a legacy to work against."



  • Herd Immunity is Almost Here. What Next?

    by John M. Barry

    The best-case scenario for humanity's future with the Coronavirus, in which virus strains produce much fewer and much less dangerous cases of illness, requires reducing the number of unvaccinated people around the globe. 



  • The Inescapable Dilemma of Infectious Disease

    by Kyle Harper

    Control of infectious diesase is arguably humanity's greatest triumph. Has that triumph changed our environment to make diseases tougher to control? Has our success stopped us from being able to think of how to thrive without control of infections? 



  • The Way it Was

    "That year in the 1960s, several thousand American women were treated in emergency rooms for botched abortions, and there were at least 200 known deaths.Comparing my story with others from the pre-Roe era, what impresses me is how close I veered to mortal danger."



  • How "Snake Oil" Got a Bad Name

    by Caitjan Gainty

    19th century snake oil was not necessarily less effective than the wares of orthodox medical professionals, but was unable to withstand changes in the medical marketplace driven by professional organizations. 



  • The Long History of Vaccine Mandates

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    President Biden's recent call for mandatory vaccination for federal workers follows the precedent set by George Washington's order to inoculate the Continental Army for smallpox.



  • Black Health Care, Black Art: A Texas Perspective

    by Celeste Henery

    Oral histories from Black health care practitioners shed important light on how they and the communities they served understood health and treatment, and speak to the ongoing problems Black Americans report in accessing good and compassionate care. 



  • AIDS Disappeared from Public View Without Ending. Will Covid-19 do the Same?

    by Dan Royles

    AIDS activism shifted from framing the epidemic as a political crisis to a medical problem, allowing the ongoing vulnerability of the poor to fade from view as pharmaceutical advances have helped control the spread and impact of HIV among the affluent. 



  • Psychiatry Confronts Its Racist Past, and Tries to Make Amends

    "Critics operating both inside and outside the A.P.A. say that it still must overcome high hurdles to truly address its issues around racial equity — including its diagnostic biases, the enduring lack of Black psychiatrists and a payment structure that tends to exclude people who can’t afford to pay out of pocket for services."



  • Pandemic Lessons From the Era of ‘Les Miserables’

    Medical historian Ed Cohen describes the 1832 cholera outbreak as "imperial blowback," as the disease arrived in Europe from their colonies. Nearly 2% of the city's population died, but the aftermath saw an increase in migration from the countryside and a flourishing of public health-oriented planning.